5 February 1942|
Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England
|Alma mater||King's College London|
The Woman in Black|
The Mist in the Mirror
I'm the King of the Castle
|Spouse||Stanley Wells (m. 1975, reportedly separated 2013)|
Susan Hill CBE (born 5 February 1942) is an English author of fiction and non-fiction works. Her novels include The Woman in Black, The Mist in the Mirror and I'm the King of the Castle for which she received the Somerset Maugham Award in 1971. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to literature.
Early life and education
Hill was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Her home town was later referred to in her novel A Change for the Better (1969) and in some short stories like Cockles and Mussels.
She attended Scarborough Convent School, where she became interested in theatre and literature. Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factories. Hill states that she attended a girls’ grammar school, Barr's Hill. Her fellow pupils included Jennifer Page, the first Chief Executive of the Millennium Dome. At Barrs Hill, she took A levels in English, French, History, and Latin, proceeding to an English degree at King's College London. By this time, she had already written her first novel, The Enclosure, which was published by Hutchinson in her first year at the university. The novel was criticised by The Daily Mail for its sexual content, with the suggestion that writing in this style was unsuitable for a "schoolgirl".
Her next novel Gentleman and Ladies was published in 1968. This was followed in quick succession by A Change for the Better, I'm the King of the Castle, The Albatross and other stories, Strange Meeting, The Bird of Night, A Bit of Singing and Dancing and In the Springtime of the Year, all written and published between 1968 and 1974.
She was engaged to David Lepine, organist at Coventry Cathedral but he died of a coronary in 1972. In 1975, she married Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells, and they moved to Stratford upon Avon. Their first daughter, author Jessica Ruston, was born in 1977, and their second daughter, Clemency, was born in 1985. A middle daughter, Imogen, was born prematurely, and died at the age of five weeks. In 2013 it was reported that she had left her husband and moved in with Barbara Machin, creator of Waking The Dead, who is adapting Hill’s crime fiction series Serrailler for ITV, and previously adapted another of Susan's works The Small Hand. However, she said that she was 'still married' to Wells in 2015. In 2016, Machin left Hill for comedienne Rhona Cameron, prompting a friend to comment to the press, "Susan is devastated and heart-broken. Barbara announced out of the blue that she was leaving her. It’s very sad. Susan still loves her and hopes she will see sense and come back."
Hill has recently founded her own publishing company, Long Barn Books, which has published two Simon Serrailler short stories and The Magic Apple Tree, all by Susan Hill, as well as The Dream Coat by Adele Geras and Colouring In by Angela Ruth.
Hill's novels are written in a descriptive gothic style, especially her ghost story The Woman in Black, which was published in 1983. She has expressed an interest in the traditional English ghost story, which relies on suspense and atmosphere to create its impact, similar to the classic ghost stories by Montague Rhodes James and Daphne du Maurier. The novel was turned into a play in 1987 and continues to run in the West End of London, joining the group of plays that have run for over twenty years. It was also made into a television film in 1989, and a film by Hammer Film Productions in 2012. She wrote another ghost story with similar ingredients, The Mist in the Mirror in 1992, and a sequel to du Maurier's Rebecca entitled Mrs. De Winter in 1993.
In 2004, Hill began a series of crime novels featuring detective Simon Serrailler, entitled The Various Haunts of Men (2004). This was followed by The Pure in Heart (2005), The Risk of Darkness (2006), The Vows of Silence (2009), Shadows in the Street (2010), The Betrayal of Trust (2011), A Question of Identity (2013), The Soul of Discretion (2014) and A Breach of Security, a short story (2014) and Hero, another short story (2016). One of Hill's plays On the face of it has been included in the Indian school curriculum for the 12th grade. Her ninth book in the Simon Serrailler series, The Comforts of Home, will be published in October 2018.
- 1971 Somerset Maugham Award I'm the King of the Castle
- 1972 Whitbread Novel Award The Bird of Night also shortlisted for the Booker Prize
- 1972 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize The Albatross
- 1988 Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (Gold Award) (6–8 years category) Can It Be True?: A Christmas Story
- 2012 CBE awarded by the queen
- "No. 60173". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2012. p. 7.
- "CBE". Retrieved 2012-06-15.
- "About Susan - Autobiography of author Susan Hill". Archived from the original on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
- "Biography (part 2)". www.susan-hill.com. Archived from the original on 29 May 2008. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- Freeman, Hadley (18 October 2003). "Cotswold chameleon". The Guardian (UK). Guardian News and Media Ltd. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
- "The author of the most celebrated ghost story of modern times talks about wickedness, her dark new novella – and why she would never read the latest Man Booker winner", The Guardian, 25 Oct 2013 Retrieved 2016-07-03.
- "Husband of The Woman in Black author Susan Hill exits, stage left". Telegraph.co.uk. 8 December 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "Husband of The Woman in Black author Susan Hill exits, stage left". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-10-25.
- Hill, Susan. "Twitter post". Twitter. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- Shakeskpeare, Sebastian (20 January 2016). "Queen of the ghost story heartbroken by love split". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
- Hill, Susan: The Beacon, dust jacket, Chatto & Windus, 2008.
- "Long Barn Books". longbarnbooks.com. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "The Woman in Black". susanhill.org.uk. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
- "Comforts of Home - new | Overlook Press". www.overlookpress.com. Retrieved 2018-09-20.